Canine Companions for Independence Looks to Eliminate Wait List for Children Needing Assistance Dogs

Academy Award Winning Actress Margaret O'Brien Helps Launch New Children's Initiative in Northeast Region

Dec 09, 2010, 09:00 ET from Canine Companions for Independence

NEW YORK, Dec. 9, 2010 /PRNewswire/ -- Canine Companions for Independence (CCI), a national non-profit organization that breeds, trains and places assistance dogs with children and adults with disabilities, announced today the launch of the Margaret O'Brien Children's Initiative – a fundraising effort that seeks to find donors who will make contributions that help provide skilled companion dogs for children with disabilities.

CCI's Northeast Regional office, which spans 13 states from Maine to Virginia, has partnered with Academy Award winning actress Margaret O'Brien to identify funds that will provide dogs for the 39 children with disabilities currently on its regional waiting list.

Miss O'Brien, a motion picture icon best known for her award-winning performance of Tootie in "Meet Me In St. Louis," will be honored at an event this evening at The Forbes Galleries in New York City.

"All children deserve the opportunity to grow towards an independent life and the dogs provided by Canine Companions for Independence are an integral part of that growth for children with disabilities," said Miss O'Brien. "I am honored to support CCI and the exceptional children who need these exceptional dogs."

The Margaret O'Brien Children's Initiative aims to help change the lives of children with disabilities and their families by providing dogs that enable the children to lead more independent lives by performing tasks such as retrieving fallen objects, turning light switches on/off and serving as social bridges to more active lifestyles.  Children between the ages of five and 18 with disabilities such as cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, autism and Down's syndrome are in dire need of the assistance and companionship provided by these animals.

Each assistance dog costs $50,000 from training to placement and CCI never charges for a dog, but depends upon the kindness and generosity of others to financially support the placement of dogs.  

"Miss O'Brien's generosity to lend her name and support in honor of these children is a spectacular example of how CCI fulfills its mission of placing exceptional dogs with exceptional people," said Debra Dougherty, executive director of the northeast regional office of CCI.  

The launch event is being held at an exhibition of The Vintage Woman: A Celebration of a Century of Costume Jewelry in America at The Forbes Galleries, and was sponsored by The Chatwal Hotel New York and Tri-State Lincoln Dealers.

For more information on the organization or to donate to the Margaret O'Brien Children's Initiative, please call 1-800-572-BARK.

About CCI

Canine Companions for Independence is the largest non-profit provider of trained assistance dogs with five regional training centers across the country. Established in 1975, Canine

Companions provides highly trained assistance dogs to children and adults with disabilities and is recognized worldwide for the excellence of its dogs, and quality and longevity of the matches it makes between dogs and people. There is no charge for the dog, its training and ongoing follow-up services. For more information visit or call 1-800-572-BARK.

SOURCE Canine Companions for Independence